Characteristics of Incompetence
On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, Norman F. Dixon, 1976
After describing command failures in the Crimea and the Boer War, the author offers these characteristics of incompetence for the reader to keep in mind as they are explored in following chapters.
1. An underestimation, sometimes bordering on the arrogant, of the enemy.
2. An equating of war with sport.
3. An inability to profit from past experience.
4. A resistance to adopting and exploiting available technology and novel tactics.
5. An aversion to reconnaissance, coupled with a dislike of intelligence (in both senses of the word).
6. Great physical bravery but little moral courage.
7. An apparent imperviousness by commanders to loss of life and human suffering amongst their rank and file, or (its converse) an irrational and incapacitating state of compassion.
8. Passivity and indecisiveness in senior commanders.
9. A tendency to lay blame on others.
10. A love of the frontal assault.
11. A love of 'bull', smartness, precision and strict preservation of 'the military pecking order.'
12. A high regard for tradition and other aspects of conservatism.
13. A lack of creativity, improvisation, inventiveness and openmindedness.
14. A tendency to eschew moderate risks for tasks so difficult that failure might seem excusable.